The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it has temporarily suspended the premium processing for the H-1B visa.
This move comes at a time when USCIS will begin accepting applications for the fiscal year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019) from April 2. The suspension will last until September 10, it said.
“This temporary suspension will help us reduce overall H-1B processing times,” USCIS said. “By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years.”
The suspension of premium processing for the H-1B visa could hit Indian IT outsourcing companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
The move could also hit top Silicon Valley players such as Microsoft and Google, which also rely on H-1B.
Last month, the Donald Trump administration had announced a new measure, making the approval of H-1B visa more tougher.
As per the new policy, any company will have to make one more clarification to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in a speciality occupation.
The updated policy is a part of Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, which directs to protect the interests of US workers.
According to the US administration officials, the scrutiny is needed to ensure the integrity of the controversial visa programme, which according to critics has cost American jobs.
The H-1B visa allows US employers to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations.
The Indians are the main beneficiaries of the H1-B visas, although there are no national quotas for the facility nor is it specifically designed for Indians.